Understanding my son better

by Jane

My husband spoke to an Occupational Therapist by chance just a few months ago about our 3 yr old son. The OT was a fellow student in his Masters degree programme course and of course the subject of kids came up. After listening to my husband describe our son over a few conversations, the OT asked us whether we had heard of SPD or SID (Sensory Integration Disorder) which she related to Dabrowski's Over-Excitabilities.

Of course, weeks of research and observation followed and things just clicked into place. I had to quit my job when my son was born and nobody understood what a hard time my husband and I were having. He wasn't just a typical newborn - he wouldn't sleep, he reacted to light and even the smallest sounds, he nursed compulsively for hours and hours, he hated his bath, he hated his crib mobile (we gave it away) and crib toys, he howled in his car seat all the time, he didn't like the sound of rain, he didn't like bouncers, he had the worst colic and I bought ear plugs, he wouldn't sit in his pram, only the body sling carrier calmed him down...

As a toddler, he couldn't chew his food properly and I was so ashamed whenever we went to parties that I would have bring porridge or mince for him even when the other kids were eating cookies and fries. People kept telling me to just let him eat, but they weren't the ones to have to watch him gag and vomit up his food. As if I hadn't tried! He didn't use his rocking horse that his grandmother bought for him. He still doesn't dare to sit on a swing. Friendly swimmers at our local pool have suggested we dunk him under to "sink or swim" but we know this would totally traumatize him. He took a year to learn to float and as a baby would howl in the ring float and refuse to float for months. He still can't use a scooter properly, even though boys younger than him zoom past.

But he is extremely, extremely bright. He could speak in complete sentences when he was 18 months old and had a vocabulary of over a thousand words by age 2. At 3, he can read. At age 3 has books on outer space and knows about the concept of gravity and all the planets. At age 3 and 3 months, he asked me last week, "Mummy, if there is not much gravity, when we run we will start to fly, right? So we must wear magnetic shoes in a space ship."

A doctor once mentioned borderline Asperger's, but it didn't fit properly as he is quite social. High functioning Autism seemed closer as he was also obsessed with lining things up, food not touching on his plate and solitary activities. But it didn't quite fit either as he is a master at reading emotions.

Then we met the Occupational Therapist and started reading more about SPD. Suddenly the things in my house: the spinning chair, large sofas, blackout curtains, plain bedsheets, compartmentalised plates, soft clothes (he cannot wear jeans or collared shirts comfortably), large bathtub for warm baths, food mincers... everything that we had just done coz it "worked" made sense... apparently, unconsciously, we had created a Sensory Diet for him. We even bought special floating suits for him to encourage him to swim in the pool and certain other "therapeutic" aids like soft musical bells, a spinning chair from Ikea etc etc. We bring him to playgrounds and encourage him to climb and swing and spin, we roughhouse with him gently, we let him sleep with our cats as it calms him down, we give him 3 warm baths a day, he keeps to a strict routine for naps and activity...

Now I know what we can do a lot more of. Websites and books like this have helped greatly. I feel like this is another shot of energy and information for all of us in the family. My little boy is extremely well adjusted now, I'm still not back at work, but I know all this is best for him.

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Food Diet Ideas?
by: Anonymous

Needing some food ideas...thanks!

by: Anonymous

My daughter was diagnosed with (what was then called Kinesthetic learning disorder) SPD when she was in the second grade. As a baby she was slow to sit up, talk, and even as a 6 mo. old had an emotional disconnect, smiling when she should cry etc. Her bath times were a nightmare until I took them with her. She would run into doors full tilt bounce off, smile, and go on her merry way. She has been emotionally and socially immature all of her life but as she grows older these things have improved radically.

She wasn't as bad as some of your children, average I would guess. But there was no help for us then and we had to muddle through the frustration and ignorance on our own. For the longest time I believed that she would never be able to live on her own. At twelve I was still giving her complete directions on how to go to the store across the street.

School was an exercise in frustration for both of us. If she got Cs it was a great success. Finally, I home schooled her in conjunction with public school and things improved in all aspects of her life. It was a partnership for the success of Natalie. We both worked hard trying one thing after another until something clicked for her and we succeeded.

Today Natalie is a bright, fun, popular and independent woman. Although she has had emotional maturity issues all of her life, she is what you would now label as "sensitive" or "empathic" and still improving (Most people put her age at about 25). Natalie is loved deeply by her many friends. She has been a very successful office administrator, reorganizing struggling business offices to work efficiently and profitably, was a youth councilor for her church for two years before going back to school for her business degree and starting her own business as historical apparel designer, tailor, and theatrical costumer.

I guess what I'm saying here folks, is don't give up. Your kids are great people who have a huge challenge before them but when you and they succeed are going to be strong, loving, awesome adults. It IS worth it!

P.S. Natalie is now in her last class for her AS, is carrying a 4.0 grade average for the last 2 years and the business is starting to pick up.She is 30 years old.

thank you...
by: Stacy

Thank you for sharing! We went through pretty much the same thing.... my daughter took 4 20 min naps a day for the first 2 years of her life... now she is 5 in school loving it... I never thought we would get here. I am so proud of her! And me!

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